Government Struggling to Fix Obamacare Errors

Brianna Ehley
The Fiscal Times
Appeals Court Strikes Down Federal Exchange Subsidies for Obamacare

Obamacare’s technological nightmare might not be over yet.

Due to problems with the backend of the website, the Department of Health and Human Services reported last month that there were  nearly 3 million inconsistencies on applications for health insurance. At the time, officials assured the public they were aggressively working to solve the problem.

Related: Problems Found with 2 Million Obamacare Signups

But now, a new inspector general report reveals that nearly nine out of 10 erroneous applications have yet to be resolved, and the government isn’t really sure how to fix the problem.

The IG said the primary issues with the applications revolve around verifying citizenship status and income. Under the law, legally residing immigrants can receive subsidies, while undocumented residents cannot. Problems verifying income have also affected subsidy eligibility and the amount those who qualified have received. If enrollees received too much in subsidies, they will be required to pay them back through tax returns next year.

The inconsistencies, for the most part, are not likely fraud, the IG said. One marketplace, for instance, had applications where infants and young children were identified as being incarcerated, which probably was not the case.

Related: Obamacare Subsidy Overpayments: How to Recoup?

The IG said that it is unclear how many of the more than 8 million Obamacare enrollees have been affected, since the report measured only the inconsistencies, which can appear multiple times on a single application.

HHS officials say they are in the process of fixing the inconsistencies, but expect it to be a timely process, as they are doing much of the work manually.

“It is not surprising that there are inconsistencies between some information provided by application filers and the electronic data sources, and, in fact, this issue is addressed in the Affordable Care Act,” Marilyn Tavenner, administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said in a letter to the IG’s office. “This is the first year that consumers have applied for coverage through the Marketplaces. Therefore, consumers are inexperienced with the eligibility process, which could lend to application mistakes.”

This article was updated on Thursday at 3:49 p.m. 

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